Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Kazan: Capital of Tatarstan, Russia

Kazan, a million plus city in western Tatarstan, a region that is perhaps 2/3rds Muslim (map).

The history of Kazan from Kazan State University - or you can simply view this timeline.

As in much of Russia, Kazan's architecture tells history quite well

A Washington Post article on relations between Tatars and Russians in Kazan:
We spent part of the day walking around Kazan -- which means "cauldron" in
Tatar -- asking people on the street what they thought. One thing we heard
repeatedly was that "mixed marriages" abound here, apparently more so than in
other ethnic enclaves. About half of the Tatars we stopped reported being
married to Russians, and vice versa. "How can you hate Tatars when your own
children are half-Tatar?" one woman asked me.

However, in the same article a local historian gives another answer:
There have been many governments here over the centuries," she said. "The
Bulgars, the Golden Horde, the Kazan Khanate. There was always a certain amount
of tolerance to other religions. Under the Kazan Khanate, no churches were ever
destroyed. So we have a history of tolerance here."
The she added another comment, about the Chechens themselves: "People from the Caucasus are different. Our blood doesn't run as hot as theirs."

However, Islam's importance seems to be slowing reemerging- perhaps because a very large mosque (pics) has recently been built within the city's kremlin walls- a replica of the one destroyed by Ivan the Terrible in 1552 (who failed in forcibly converting the Tatars). How the battle over Kazan proceded.

So, is fighting over religious symbols a sign of growing tension?

An Interfax report on a controversial book (A Modern History of the Islamic Community in Russia ) Orthodox believers want acknowledged .

A Christian evangelical's perspective from the '90s.

Hmm. 1 million people in Kazan, 2 million in the Tatarstan region. Thats about twice as large as Grand Rapids, Michigan and its county.


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